Thames, PhD Assistant Professor, University of California Los Angeles National media coverage of various troubling incidents have sparked outrage and forced the conversation of race relations and biases within the justice system against individuals of color. These include the Ferguson protests of the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, by a police officer; the brutal beating of Marlene Pinnock, a homeless grandmother, by a California Highway Patrol officer; and the harassment and arrest of Arizona State University Professor Ersula Ore for jaywalking.
This discussion of society-wide trends, while important, runs the risk of diminishing the individual, psychological effects of racism on minority groups, not only because it abstracts an otherwise immediate and deeply personal issue, but because a discussion of large-scale trends without an accompanying investigation into the smaller-scale constituent factors behind those trends can actually perpetuate racist ideologies; for example, while the disproportionate number of incarcerated minorities is certainly the result of a variety of complex social, psychological, and structural factors which serve to disadvantage minorities, it can be easily marshaled by racist individuals and ideologies as evidence for the supposedly inherent criminality or inferiority of entire ethnic or racial groups.
Thus, to better understand the effect of racism on minority groups and further undermine the ignorance that all racism depends on, one must examine the psychological effects of racism, because experiencing racist attitudes and actions can have a variety of detrimental effects that contribute to the larger-scale trends mentioned above.
In particular, racism not only negatively effects individuals' sense of self, motivation, and stress level, but can actually influence interpersonal relationships to the point that the children of individuals affected by racism who lack a suitable outlet suffer from higher incidences of behavioral and learning problems.
To begin one must address certain theoretical difficulties inherent when discussing the effects of racism due to the fact that the actual study of racism as a social and psychological phenomenon is fairly recent Li,p.
In the context of this study, the most important theoretical concept to discuss and ultimately discard is the perceived distinction between institutional and individual racism. In short, institutional racism refers to the "structural factors" in a society that result in racist policies and practices, as well as the "economic, political and other benefits of discrimination to the dominant group," while individual racism refers to racist attitudes and actions exhibited by individuals Li,p.
In some respects this division is useful, because it allows one to understand how an institution might be racist even if its constituent members do not hold racist views, but this division also makes it too easy for both individuals and institutions to shirk responsibility; a racist individual can be written off as a "bad apple," while a racist institution can be allowed to continue due to the impression that changing it might simply be too large of a project.
Furthermore, this distinction contributes to the aforementioned problems that arise from focusing on large-scale trends, which are the obvious result of institutional racismat the expense of individual psychological experiences, which can arise from both institutional and individual racism.
As a result, recent research has attempted to bridge this theoretical gap with the understanding that "although structural arrangements and social practices determine attitude formation, the latter may in turn shape subsequent social practices" Li,p.
In the context of this study, this means recognizing that a personal experience of racism, whether institutional or individual, is merely one point in a larger circle of self-reinforcing racist belief that transcends both the individual and the institution.
In the workplace racism such as this can seriously effect individuals psychologically, because even if an individual does not internalize the negative view of him or her self that a racist attitude or action might present, the individual is still forced to recognize and react to this racism, either by confronting it directly or adapting in order to remain professionally successful.
Although the idea of "emotional labor" might sound like a fairly nebulous concept, it equates to very real stress and energy expenditure that detracts not only from a professor's work, but also every other part of his or her life. This is because "chronic social stressors, including racism, […] deplete the reserve capacity for coping by requiring greater use of tangible and psychological resources," to the point that experiencing racism can actually contribute to physical ailments Brondolo et al.
That the aforementioned study dealt specifically with college professors is somewhat telling, because it reveals the extent to which racism permeates nearly every area of the workplace; one would expect rightly or wrongly that academia would be one of the less racist areas, if only because it ostensibly focuses on critical thinking and legitimate argument and evidence, two things anathema to racist belief due to the fact that it depends on "categorical thinking that systematically misinterprets facts " Li,p.
The effect is even more pronounced in less well-paid areas of the workforce, because individuals who simply have less "tangible resources" namely money to cope are much more likely to suffer from the negative affect associated with racism.
As mentioned above, the negative affect that results from perceived racism diminishes an individuals emotional and mental reserves, and research has shown that a lower socioeconomic status exaggerates this negative affect and its longer-term effects Brondolo et al.
It is important to note that in practically any context, the negative effects of racism on an individual are exacerbated if that individual is a woman, because she is forced to cope with an additional form of discrimination that frequently compounds the negative effects of racism.
The vaccine analogy is actually fairly helpful, because racism functions much like a disease, with the only caveat being that the carriers themselves rarely experience the most damaging symptoms. In this way racism can be considered not only a chronic social stressor, but actually a dangerously noxious one, because its ill effects are compounded over time and are in many ways self-reinforcing.
While other chronic stressors may contribute to ill psychological and social health, racism is especially pernicious because the perception of racism can "contribute to both cognitive schemas about the potentially threatening nature of the world […] and shape dispositional tendencies to experience negative affect" Brondolo et al.
In other words, perceiving racism can actual train individuals to act as if the world as a whole is more threatening or dangerous, and furthermore, prime them to react negatively in other situations, regardless of whether or not that situation was actually threatening or dangerous.
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You'll be the only person on the planet to receive the one-of-a-kind paper that we write for you!Applying Psychological Science, Benefiting Society. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for Black males between ages 20 and 24 is more than double the national average for this age group (% vs.
%). Decades of research have noted the impact of discrimination and racism on the psychological health of communities of color (e.g., Bryant-Davis & Ocampo, ; Carter & Forsyth, ; Comas-Díaz, ).
Racism and the effects of racism can be seen anywhere. In the hallways of the high school, the streets, housing, neighborhoods, cities, and more, one thing is seen, and that 's segregation, which is ultimately caused by racism.
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Jun 24, · Racism’s Psychological Toll. economic and political effects of racism, but little research recognizes the psychological effects of racism on people of color.” Williams now studies the link. Toxic Exposure: The Impact of Racial Inequality on the Brain September 2, September 19, Administrator This is part of our ongoing series of blog posts about race, racism and law enforcement in communities of color.